NY Gov. Kathy Hochul
NY Gov. Kathy Hochul (D). Credit: Michael M. Santiago / Staff/Getty Images (rights managed)

Home care workers, older adults and family caregivers descended on Albany Monday demanding New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) include Fair Pay for Home Care legislation in the 2024 budget.

The advocates delivered more than 8,000 letters from across the state asking the governor to boost wages for home care workers in an effort to ease the state’s direct care worker crisis. 

“We are at the governor’s office with a simple message: there is a home care emergency in New York State and Governor Hochul has the power to end this emergency by including Fair Pay for Home Care in the budget,” the advocacy group New York Caring Majority said in a statement. “We are also asking her to come out and meet with those most impacted by the home care crisis before the end of budget negotiations.”  

The legislation would raise home care wages to 150% of the state’s minimum wage, direct the commissioner of health to set regional minimum wage rates of reimbursement for home care aides under Medicaid and managed care plans. Currently Massachusetts, California, Washington and the District of Columbia have a minimum wage at or over $15.

Last month, home care advocates excoriated the governor for a proposed budget that would freeze home care workers’ hourly wages at $18, regardless of an increase in the state’s minimum wage. The budget calls for the state’s minimum wage, which is currently $14.20, to be indexed to inflation and capped at 3% annually. Home care advocates argue if the state minimum wage reaches $18, direct care jobs would again become undesirable, low-income positions. 

Direct care is the largest industry in New York, according to PHI National. PHI estimates the state currently has 560,000 personal care aides, home health aides and nursing assistants. However, the state will need more than 200,000 more of those workers by the end of the decade. PHI estimates approximately 88% of job openings in the state will be in direct care by 2030.